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The Complete Idiot's Guide(R) to NASA
The Complete Idiot's Guide(R) to NASA
by Tom Jones
Edition: Paperback
47 used & new from $0.03

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Only covers space exploration and nothing else about NASA, August 14, 2002
First of all, I'd like to say that I had a hard time rating this book. I thought about giving the book anywhere from two to five stars. Even though, the book is extremely well written and very easy to read, I ended up giving it just three stars, since it only focused on a portion of NASA's activities, such as Apollo era manned space flight, mostly pre-Challenger Space Shuttle activities and unmanned planetary explorations. The book is totally devoid of any information related to how NASA operates, their research into aeronautics, space vehicle development and on and on (about a half a page total). In other words, the reader only gets a glimpse of NASA's activities. Furthermore, the book contains more than a few non-typographical errors, such as vehicle performance, launch dates, etc., which the author, a former astronaut, and the editor should have caught. If the book had titled something like "The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Exploration of the Solar System," I'd have probably given it four or four and a half stars, because it is quite well written and is based on the author's (former astronaut Tom Jones) interesting and highly entertaining personal experiences.
The book opens with opens with a brief description of the author's four Shuttle flights and what he did of each mission. After this introductory chapter, the author describes how rockets works (Newton's laws of motion), the early pioneers and what it takes to become as astronaut. The book then proceeds into the early attempts of both NASA and the Russian Space Agency to put the first manned and unmanned vehicles into space. The book then presents NASA's effort to put the first man on the moon, from the first Mercury flights to the last Apollo mission. After this long section, which compromises approximately 50% of the book, the remainder of the book summarizes NASA's manned and unmanned adventures since Apollo, such as Skylab, the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle.
Even with the absence of information on NASA aeronautical and space vehicle development programs or even something on its general management style, I found the book to be quite enjoyable, since it is based on the author's fascinating and highly entertaining personal experiences as an astronaut. It provides a great summary on much of NASA's manned and unmanned space missions including hardware such as space suits and space food. The chapter dealing with the development of astronauts' meals was extremely interesting and I doubt if I have ever found so much information about this topic located in a single source.
In conclusion, if you're looking for a well written, entertaining and concise history of NASA's manned and unmanned endeavors to explore the solar system, this book is a very good start. On the other hand, if you're looking for a book about NASA, what it does and how it operates, this book is not for you.


Neptune: The Planet, Rings, and Satellites
Neptune: The Planet, Rings, and Satellites
by Ellis D. Miner
Edition: Paperback
23 used & new from $27.08

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, Plus a lot on the Voyager Missions, July 25, 2002
Neptune is the eighth planet in the solar system, the last gas giant and the last planet of any real size. Due to its great distance from the sun, everything that we knew about this planet, until Voyager 2 visited it in 1989, was determined by telescopic observation. In this book, the authors, who both worked on the Voyager science team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, summarize the discoveries made by the spacecraft, the spacecraft's design and the discoveries made by telescopic observations. As with all the books published in the Springer-Praxis, Astronomy and Space Sciences series, there are numerous high quality photographs, line drawings and graphs in this book. Other than a few children's books, I believe that this is the only text, which covers Neptune in any detail.
The first quarter of the books examines the pre-Voyager findings from Galileo's possible sighting, to its modern discovery that was determined by mathematical methods and its possible origins. The next portion of the book, which is also approximately one quarter of the book, covers the development of the Voyager probes and their subsequent discoveries at Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus (Voyager 2 only). The remainder of the book focuses on the Voyager 2 encounter with Neptune in 1989 from the long-range pre-encounter observations to the post encounters studies. In this large section of the book there are discussions on everything from, rings and satellite discoveries, radio science, the moons, the moon Triton and its atmosphere, cloud structure and much more.
A few final thoughts. First, if you don't have a great summary the Voyager mission, this book definitely provides it. Secondly, even though I have a technical background, I found some sections, especially the chapter of the magnetic fields a bit too technical. With that said, this book is definitive text about the planet Neptune.


All We Did Was Fly to the Moon (History-alive series)
All We Did Was Fly to the Moon (History-alive series)
by Dick Lattimer
Edition: Paperback
76 used & new from $0.01

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neat Little Book, July 22, 2002
Much has been written about the Apollo moon landings, from astronaut biographies to highly technical books requiring an advanced degree. In this book, however, the author focuses on a much different topic. Here, for each mission he covers how each spacecraft was named and how each crew patch was designed. In addition to this well researched topic, the books also presents reproduced newspaper front pages that give you the feel for the excitement of the times as well as presenting numerous color and black and white photographs. The book also covers the Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz Test Project and the early Shuttle landing tests. The final section lists all the contactors and sub-contractors that developed various components for the Apollo program, a very welcomed and hard to find list. While some may feel that moon landing patch designs and spacecraft names is an odd topic for a book about this great adventure, this book will surprise you on how good it truly is.


Teacher in Space: Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger Legacy
Teacher in Space: Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger Legacy
by Colin Burgess
Edition: Paperback
17 used & new from $34.95

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful and Extremely Well Researched, July 19, 2002
While much has been written about the engineering and management decisions that lead up to Challenger explosion, the mission, the Challenger crew and the whole Teacher in Space Program have received much less attention. In this book, the author, Colin Burgess, only devotes a few pages to the accident and focuses primarily on the teacher in space program, Christa McAuliffe, her teaching and NASA experiences and of course the aftermath of the accident. Since the book was written well close to fifteen years after the accident, it avoids much of the sadness, anger and the like which dominated many of the early works on this subject. As a result, the author gives us a wonderful book about the life and times of Christa McAuliffe and the Teacher in Space Program. There is also closing chapter on the next Teacher in Space Candidate, Barbara Morgan, who should fly sometime this decade.
As someone who lives across the street from the Johnson Space Center (JSC), it is quite obvious to me that the author spent a considerable amount of time researching her life and experiences at JSC, since all of the places, buildings, etc., are named correctly (using the names in 1986), located in their proper places and the astronaut training she received is as it should be. In other words, not only are you getting a wonderful well written book, it is also well researched.
One final thing to add, the book contains 32 pages of color pictures and all royalties from the book go to the Christa McAuliffe Fund.


Apollo Support
Apollo Support
by Franklin S. Myers
Edition: Hardcover
2 used & new from $14.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Different Side of the Space Program, July 16, 2002
This review is from: Apollo Support (Hardcover)
During of the 1960's and early 1970's, the author, Franklin S. Myers, worked for the General Electric Company, supporting the Apollo moon landing project and because of this, I suspect that much of this book is based on his experiences living on the Gulf Coast during this time. Using the Apollo program as the setting, the book follows the career of Frank Evans, an unemployed worker, who applies and then gets a job working as a NASA contractor worker supporting the Mississippi Test Facility, which today is known as the Stennis Test Facility. Even though the book is a work of fiction, the events, places, names, NASA facilities, etc., are correct which gives the story a good touch of realism. For example, there are some very nice and accurate descriptions of the Kennedy Space Center launch sites and of hurricane Camille that devastated the area in 1969 right after the first moon landing. Furthermore, as a transplanted northerner myself, I feel the author captured the subtle cultural differences that exist between the north and the south.
While this book may not be a great book about the Apollo program, it does provide a good insight to what many workers did behind the scenes and what their families endured.


Creating the International Space Station (Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration)
Creating the International Space Station (Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration)
by David M. Harland
Edition: Paperback
Price: $62.66
49 used & new from $17.31

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Overview of the Building of the ISS., July 15, 2002
I have worked on various aspects of the International Space Station (ISS) from hardware design, maintenance and EVA operations for over thirteen years and I found this book to be an extremely well researched overview of the design and construction of this massive space project. For those readers looking for detailed descriptions of the engineering designs of the ISS, this book does not contain them and only provides the most general of descriptions (at least from my point of view as a NASA engineer). It does, however, provide an excellent summary of the history, on-orbit operations, and construction, of what has been termed "The greatest engineering project in the history of mankind."
As one would expect, the book opens with a historical overview of the world's first space stations: NASA's Skylab and the Russian's Salyut 1, and covers the lessons learned from these early endeavors. After these introductory chapters, the next section examined the successful Russian Salyut series of space stations that set many endurance records and demonstrated that complex on-orbit repairs are possible. In contrast to the Russian effort during this time, the NASA space station efforts were directly primarily at numerous paper studies.
The book next moves into the development of the US Space Station Freedom (SSF) projects, from the go ahead directive given by President Ronald Reagan, through the first George Bush years till its finale during the first year of the Clinton administration and covers all the early designs like the Dual Keel through the various Clinton redesign Options. While many may view the SSF project as mainly a paper study, it is clear that this project had a significant impact on the final design, development and operation of the ISS.
Again, in contrast to NASA's paper studies, the Russian space program had successful on-orbit programs with the Salyut space station and the Mir. These programs continued to show that humans could easily work in space by performing routine maintenance and emergency repairs. It should be noted that the cosmonauts aboard Mir still hold the endurance record over a full and continuous year in space. I should point out, as is documentation here, that a lot more has happen in the Russian space program, both good and bad, than is ever reported in the press.
The final section of the book, which is approximately half of the book, examines the construction of the ISS from the Shuttle-Mir partnership to the final mission of 2001. This portion of the book thoroughly examines the inclusion of the Russians into the NASA project and the various problems that occurred during the early stages of this joint venture including funding and numerous cultural differences. Once these problems had been over come, the book chronicles, in great detail, each ISS construction mission from liftoff to landing (or burn up for the Progress resupply missions). For each mission, the authors cover liftoff and any associated problems, the crew, the Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVAs), what was added, maintenance, crew rotation, etc. This book is so complete that I expect it will become the standard outlining the construction of the ISS for years to come.
A few final thoughts. As is typical of the Springer-Praxis series of astronomy and space exploration books, this book also contains many numerous high quality photographs and drawings, which I come to expect from this publisher. Furthermore, it avoids most of the NASA-ese use of acronyms to describe just about every piece of hardware. I found only one minor error and that was only related to the naming of an EVA construction tool. And finally, since the ISS is a work in progress, the book only covers those missions completed by the end of 2001 and in the future will either need to be updated or have a second volume.


Space Shuttle: The History of the National Space Transportation System The First 100 Missions
Space Shuttle: The History of the National Space Transportation System The First 100 Missions
by Dennis R. Jenkins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.55
42 used & new from $18.17

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Comprehensive Book About the Space Shuttle, July 6, 2002
While many books have been written about the historical development of the Space Shuttle, this book is without a doubt the best and most thorough of all. In addition, to the comprehensive text, the book contains hundreds of black and white and color photographs as well as numerous line drawings to further help the reader understand this marvelous space vehicle. Roughly the first 40% of the book covers the developmental history of the Space Shuttle from the early designs of Sanger, Bredt and von Braun, though the X-planes and Dyna-Soar to the many numerous NASA designs of which there are several hundred. These first 200 hundred pages far eclipse any other book on the subject and focus on the engineering side of the project and avoids most of the political discussions that accompany most other books on the subject. The next 60-70 pages cover the development of the present Space Shuttle. After this large introductory section, the book examines the first 100 mission of the Space Shuttle, including the Challenger accident and all the changes made to the Shuttles to improve flight worthiness. The final sections provide very technical descriptions of all aspects of the space shuttle from the landing gear, the thermal control system, the heat shields and much, much more. While I can't comment about the technical accuracy of all these sections, for those sections that I'm familiar with, the thermal control system, the environmental system and EVAs, I couldn't find anything wrong.
One final thing to add, in my over ten plus years working as a NASA contractor at the Johnson Space Center, I would say that I have referred to this book more than any other when I'm looking for information about the Space Shuttle, whether it is just general information or something more technical.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 14, 2014 8:04 AM PST


Apollo 11: The NASA Mission Reports  Vol 3: Apogee Books Space Series 22
Apollo 11: The NASA Mission Reports Vol 3: Apogee Books Space Series 22
by Robert Godwin
Edition: Paperback
19 used & new from $29.95

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it for the DVD, but don't forget about reading the book., July 5, 2002
Robert Godwin and Apogee Books have, over the past three years, compiled a variety NASA documents, press kits, crew interviews and the like, which recount the early days of the space race, focusing on the Apollo missions. This time, they have released a third volume of information dedicated in the first lunar landing of Apollo 11, which includes a DVD of the lunar EVA and an excellent companion NASA publication. Apollo 11 was the only the third manned mission to the moon. This mission was commanded by Neil Armstrong who was accompanied to the surface by Buzz Aldrin with Michael Collins as the Command Module pilot. This latest entry deserves at least 6 stars and two thumbs up.
As is evident from this reviewer's comments as well as all of the other reviewer's comments, the primary reason to purchase this book is the DVD. This two-sided DVD contains the entire video and 16mm footage, plus many still pictures of the first moonwalk on one side and the entire 16mm camera footage on the other. It is clear to me and I'm sure from anyone who has watched this DVD, that this compilation was clearly a labor of love and to date is the most impressive video of any of the lunar EVA explorations that I have ever seen. What makes this DVD so impressive is that the producer has combined the video, 16 mm camera footage and audio transmission into one single presentation. This combined presentation, clearly allows the viewer comprehend all the activities that were undertaken during the Apollo 11 moonwalk. Furthermore, when one of the astronauts takes a still picture, the image appears on the screen and gives the viewer a clear idea of how, by whom and where the picture was taken. Regardless of whether or not you were alive to see the first moon landing live on TV, you definitely can relive the excitement of that wondrous time by watching this DVD.
The book that accompanies the DVD is a reprint of the Apollo 11 Mission Report prepared by the Mission Evaluation Team from the Manned Spaceflight Center in Houston. This report is essentially the scientific and engineering evaluation of the Apollo 11 flight. In these pages, there are many figures that show a comparison between a predicted value and an actual flight value (how much was used vs. how much was estimated). The lengthy report is over 200 pages long and covers all aspects of the mission, from liftoff, lunar landing, the moonwalk, the experiments, and the return to Earth. It also contains a fairly long chapter describing all of the flight anomalies (problems). Even though I've studied this mission and its moonwalk in depth, I was amazed at the number of problems that occurred during the flight to the moon. While some readers may the report's writing a bit dry in some places, they are actually getting a view of how NASA operates and why their exploration programs for the most part are quite successful.
Some general information that might be useful.
1) This report is a scanned-in documents from a previously released NASA document. In order to preserve the spirit of the original reports, all typographical and grammatical errors have NOT been fixed.
2) Proceeds from the book goes to "The Watch" an asteroid impact research project of the Space Frontier Foundation. In other words, Apogee Books is making very little off the sale of US government produced books and documents.


Apollo 16: The NASA Mission Reports Vol 1: Apogee Books Space Series 23
Apollo 16: The NASA Mission Reports Vol 1: Apogee Books Space Series 23
by Robert Godwin
Edition: Paperback
27 used & new from $4.91

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keeps Getting Better and Better, July 1, 2002
Over the past three and a half years, Robert Godwin and Apogee Books have compiled a variety of various NASA documents, press kits, crew interviews and the like, which recount the early days of the space race and specifically the Apollo missions. As is obvious from the title, this book focuses on the Apollo 16 moon mission. Apollo 16 was the second of three long duration (3 days) missions and again featured the lunar rover, which greatly extended the area that the two astronauts could explore. Veteran astronaut John Young who was making his fourth trip into space commanded this mission, rookie Charlie Duke accompanied Young to the lunar surface as the Lunar Module pilot and Ken Mattingly was the Command Module pilot.
Like many of the other volumes in this NASA Mission Report series, the book opens with the usual NASA mission press kit. It is easy to tell that the author (and I guess his staff) spent some time searching for some very clean originals, since compared to their earlier efforts the scanned in drawings are almost perfect. In addition, to the customary background information, the press kit focuses on the scientific aspects of the mission including some nice information on the often overlooked orbital photography observations. The next section contains the Pre-Flight Mission Operations Report, which presents a basic overview of the planned activities of the mission, including the EVA timelines. It is interesting to note that the format of these timelines is still used today to plan EVAs for the space station assembly. The next section presents the Post-Launch Mission Operations Report and describes the Mission problems and deviations from planned activities.
The final section, the crew debrief section, covers over half of the book, is 160 pages long. This part contains the crew's comments and feelings about various phases of the mission. Unlike a lot of the previously published crew debriefings, this one is fairly technical and uses a lot of undefined NASA acronyms. Most of the pages in this section are devoted to the EVAs and orbital observations and all three go into great detail describing all aspects of their respective duties. For example, John Young explains at great length his removal of his EVA suit and Ken Mattingly descriptions of his orbital photography mission take over five pages. One thing that I found extremely interesting is that John Young and Ken Mattingly dominated the conservations, with Charlie Duke just filling in the holes. This is opposite to the image of these astronauts. Typically, John Young and Ken Mattingly are portrayed as the quite ones, while Charlie Duke is the talker.
As usual the book also contains a CD that is loaded with a variety of interesting features. The CD contains over 2500 photographic still images, unfortunately in a low resolution format, numerous high resolution panoramas and the complete video camera footage from the three EVAs. The CD also contains a nice 25 minute interview with John Young.
Some general information that might be useful.
1) These reports are just scanned-in documents from previously released NASA press kits, etc., In order to preserve the spirit of the original reports, all typographical and grammatical errors have NOT been fixed.
2) Proceeds from the book goes to "The Watch" an asteroid impact research project of the Space Frontier Foundation. In other words, Apogee Books is making very little off the sale of US government produced books and documents.
3) Many people have asked why the post mission reports are not included. Since NASA has published several books with hundred of pages each (The NASA SP series), it would be difficult to included this voluminous amount of data.


Margaret Thatcher - Britain's Fighting Lady
Margaret Thatcher - Britain's Fighting Lady
by Speechworks
Edition: Audio CD
Price: $10.95
2 used & new from $10.95

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Collection of Audio Transmissions from the Apollo 13, June 29, 2002
As is evident by its title, this Cassette contains some of the audio transmissions from the Apollo 13 mission. The Apollo 13 mission was the third attempt to land a crew on the lunar surface; however, due to an explosion onboard the Command Module, the landing was aborted and the crew returned safely to the Earth after many trails and tribulations. The tape presents the transmissions in chronological order and of course contains the most famous quotes from the mission. For example, "Houston we have a problem"," one whole side missing", and "Farewell Aquarius". In general, I feel that most space buffs and those studying the Apollo 13 mission would find this tape fairly interesting, but the short length of the tape, 35 minutes, (plus a 6 minute speech by JFK) is hardly good coverage of a flight that lasted 8 days.
This cassette is also available on Compact Disc.


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